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Ask Casey: Spiced Nuts (Thai Spiced Cashews) for a Cocktail Party

I’m hosting a cocktail party and although it’s a potluck, I need to have a few things ready to go when I run in the door before my guests arrive. Do you have any suggestions for snacks I can make in advance—even a few nights before?

We all know I love to go retro around these parts, so I’ll continue with that theme and recommend a nice bowl of spiced nuts.

I don’t mean you can simply rip open one of those vacuum-sealed Planters cans with the unwieldy Brazil nuts hanging out in them.

Spiced nuts are great for parties, like these Thai spiced cashews that only take 20 minutes to make.
Photo: Casey Barber

(And wasn’t I just having a conversation about how much I hate the Brazil nut in the mix? It’s so large and galumphy, taking up all that space and being oily).

I mean that you can set aside 20 minutes and make a bespoke bowl of nuts, with bright flavors and unexpected spices that pair up beautifully with aperitifs.

One of my longtime go-to party recipes is for Thai spiced cashews, which are a welcome flavor shake-up from the usual sugar-glazed or herb-tossed party nut mixes out there.

Though if you’re looking for something more traditionally sweet and spicy, I’ve got that too.

Spiced nuts are great for parties, like these Thai spiced cashews that only take 20 minutes to make.
Photo: Casey Barber

I love the contrast of the cashews’ creamy texture with tangy Thai seasonings, and you won’t need to make a special trip to the Asian market to track down anything like galangal or lime leaves.

Because fresh ingredients like ginger and garlic will burn quickly when roasted using this method—I know this from experience—red curry paste does the heavy lifting here.

Use your favorite, or find a new favorite! (I’m a Thai Taste girl myself.)

These spiced nuts will keep perfectly when saved in a sealed container for at least a week, if you can hold off on eating them that long.

thai spiced cashews

The punchy saltiness of these Thai spiced cashews means they’ll absolutely hit it out of the park with a sparkling wine.

Try something unexpected and refreshing like a Vinho Verde or dry cider (not sweet hard cider!) for your pre-dinner cocktail hour.

If you’re looking for another recipe for spiced nuts that’s a stunner for cocktail parties, try my Maple Spiced Nuts and serve both for a contrasting, yet complementary appetizer pairing.

Spiced nuts are great for parties, like these Thai spiced cashews that only take 20 minutes to make.

Thai Spiced Cashews

Yield: about 3 cups
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

Spiced nuts are a saving grace for the overbooked party host. Mix up a quick batch of Thai spiced cashews for your next shindig.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon red curry paste
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 pound unsalted cashews

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Stir the brown sugar, fish sauce, curry paste, and ginger together in a large bowl. 
  3. Add the cashews and stir to coat.
  4. Spread the cashews in an even layer on the prepared baking sheet.
  5. Bake for 10 minutes, then stir the nuts. The liquid will be stickier and thicker around them, turning into a glaze.
  6. Bake for another 3 minutes, stir, then bake for another 3 minutes. At this point, the glaze should be very bubbly and almost opaque in places—even starting to burn at the edges of the paper. The nuts themselves should still be a little sticky, but don't worry about that.
  7. If this stage hasn't yet been achieved, continue baking and stirring every minute until it does.
  8. Remove and place the entire baking sheets on wire racks to cool the nuts. As they slide toward room temperature, the glaze will harden.
  9. Store in sealed jars at room temperature for up to 2 weeks if not serving immediately.

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